Flutterby™! : Virtual porn and issues of legality

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Virtual porn and issues of legality

2007-10-04 21:05:47.080194+00 by Dan Lyke 6 comments

I'd run across this video of seam carving for content aware image resizing, but recently Elf linked to it and Jamie Hayes and Alexi Efros's "Scene Completion Using Millions of Photographs", and started to muse:

It's probably revealing that my first thought while reading the abstract was, "Oh, cool. It shouldn't be too hard to create a detect pixilated region algorithm. If I use that to 'damage' the picture and the Scene Completion algorithm to repair it, I can restore an awful lot of important, uh, semantic detail to all those censored images on the a.b.p.e.asians.* newsgroups."

Hell, 99.44% of those images are photoshopped anyway-- not counting the pixellation. Nobody's going to care if her pubic hair is borrowed. The Internet views censorship as damage and routes around it; all I'm doing is trying to help.

Then he took his musings on potentially using image similarity and some of the techniques for figuring out what's naked skin a little further:

So, you run this program against the flickr group 'bikinis', or the Google Images search term "in a bikini". What's the likelihood that this algorithm, completely innocently and without human intervention or consideration, will produce something arguably illegal?

[ related topics: Photography Free Speech Software Engineering Nudity Graphics Video ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 03:13:54.420306+00 by: JT

I can't help it, curiosity always gets the best of me. I had to google image search "in a bikini" and this photo was on the first page.

I firmly believe that my curiosity is trying to kill me.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 13:16:44.166108+00 by: topspin

While I'm disturbed as I see the final demise of photography as a "hard" art form... watching "real" and "unreal" cease to mean anything in a photograph, I'm really disturbed with the trend toward created works... fiction, images, etc... being deemed "illegal" because they "too realistically" depict putrid acts or scenes.

Murders, rapes, exploitations, etc are part of the human landscape and have been depicted in art/fiction for centuries. Criminalizing writing or drawing or digital image creation because its sexual content or disgusting subject is portrayed "too realistically" starts us down a slope toward indicting Raphael or Biblical authors.

As disturbing as I would find a digitally created image of a child being exploited or someone I know being killed, we've got to reconcile, as we have with films which depict murder, rape, etc., that such things are creations and not the real occurrence of the event depicted. Perhaps some legal issues need to be settled related to the use of someone's digital likeness and that would help prevent innocent folks from ending up being the star of a digitally created porn/snuff flick, but beyond that we've got to keep our heads on straight about the line between fiction and reality.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 15:11:49.804387+00 by: JT

I can't quite find the article again, however I do remember a short time ago that a girl who was 15 took a picture of herself and emailed it to her boyfriend who was 14. The parents of the boy notified the police to scare the girl and get to drive them apart (insert joke here about Bobby Boucher hearing from his mother "girls are the devil!").

From what I understand, the boy was charged and arrested with possession of child pornography and the girl was arrested and charged with possession of child pornography and production of lewd materials involving a juvenile. The article I read was an interview with the boys' parents talking about how they didn't want any of this to happen, they wanted to scare the girl and not throw open pandora's box, causing two juveniles to become registered sex offenders and now scarred for the rest of their lives with one of the few criminal records that won't be wiped clean when they become adults.

Sometimes these laws go a bit too far. A young girl takes a picture of herself and sends it to her boyfriend. Who's the victim here?

And on a side note, when looking for an article involving these terms, don't bother googling "child pornography legal battle", "underage girl picture boyfriend" or anything along those lines. The results are unsettling at best.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 17:48:42.451078+00 by: Dan Lyke

JT, I thought I'd linked to news reports of such a case, but I don't find that particular situation. However, here's an article about a 15 year old girl "charged with sexual abuse of children, possession of child pornography and dissemination of child pornography" for taking pictures of herself and sending them to others.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 18:08:22.922706+00 by: JT

Dan, That one is from 2004, this one I just read about was still being tried and happened earlier this year. I can't find it in the regular news forums I normally read, but it may have been some odd article I stumbled across on a strange site. I do remember the one you've linked to, which is a very similar situation. The thing about the latest case which seems to make it a tad worse is that her boyfriend opened an email, told his parent, who called the police, and was charged with possession of child pornography when he did exactly what he was supposed to do... tell his parents... who did exactly what they were supposed to do... contact the authorities.

#Comment Re: made: 2007-10-05 20:43:57.144797+00 by: Dan Lyke

And that's one of the problems with the whole "possession being a crime" aspect of child pornography. Another problem being that we have no way to audit "the authorities" in their claims about same.

Relatedly, anyone know if they've charged Douglas County (Georgia) District Attorney David McDade with distribution of child pornography in conjunction with his distributing the evidence tape used against Genarlow Wilson? And the various reporters in the case with receiving it?